Kegel Exercises during Pregnancy
What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are exercises that you can do to make the muscles of your pelvic floor stronger.
Once you know how to do Kegel exercises, you can do them anytime and anywhere. In the car. Waiting in line at the shops. In the privacy of your own home.
Kegel exercises are often called pelvic floor exercises.
They are promoted as the starting point for building pelvic floor strength.
You must learn how to correctly strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
During pregnancy and after childbirth, your pelvic floor muscles are lengthened and weakened.
This can cause incontinence.
If you strengthen your pelvic floor then you will be helping to prevent, or reduce, the severity of incontinence. Continue doing your Kegels all the way into your third trimester.
Kegel exercises can help to protect you from leaking urine during and also after your baby is born.
Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy Video
Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy Tips
1. Perform these exercises slowly, with control.
2. Think about gently activating your pelvic floor not ‘squeezing’ or ‘clenching’.
3. Only complete as many repetitions as you feel comfortable doing.
More is not better, it is all about quality and technique.
4. If you are unsure whether you are performing the pelvic floor exercises correctly, book in with a women’s health physiotherapist.
5. A physiotherapist will be able to tell you if you are activating correctly. And whether there are aspects of your pelvic floor you need to work on.
How Do I Perform these Exercises?
Learning how to do Kegel exercises can be difficult for some. Unlike other strengthening exercises where you distinctly see and feel the muscle being worked.
It takes some practice to perform Kegels correctly. But once you know what the movement feels like, aim to perform Kegel exercises 3 times a day.
I want you to breathe deeply and relax your body when you are doing these exercises.
Make sure you are not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles.
Some exercises place more stress on the pelvic floor than others.
So, it’s important you learn what to do, and what not to do.
Discuss any concerns with your doctor prior or women’s health physiotherapist to commencing exercise. This ensures that all exercises and activities are appropriate for you.
When you perform pelvic floor exercises you must use the correct technique to ensure maximum benefit.
In my classes, as well as in my online program, I will show you how to effectively activate your pelvic floor muscles.
I will also provide you with pelvic floor routines that consist of short and long holds. I show when you are activating pelvic floors incorrectly.
The key is to learn how to ‘let go’ and disengage your pelvic floor. Watch this instructional video below on pelvic floor.
The Key Is To Find the Right Muscles
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream.
You should ONLY use this method for learning purposes. It is not advised to start and stop your urine regularly.
Or to frequently do Kegel exercises when you have a full bladder.
Incomplete emptying of the bladder can raise your risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI).
1. Make sure your bladder is empty.
2. Sit or lie down.
3. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
4. Hold tight and count for 5 seconds.
5. Relax the muscles and count for 5 seconds.
6. Repeat 10 times.
7. Aim for 3 times a day
Kegel Exercises Video
What are the Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Problems?
1. Accidentally losing control of their bowel.
2. Leaking urine when you exercise, play sport, laugh, cough or sneeze.
3. Leaking urine when you cough or sneeze.
4. Accidentally leaking urine when you are being active or playing sport.
6. Constant urge to go to the toilet.
7. Finding it difficult to empty their bladder or bowel.
8. Accidentally passing wind.
9. Painful sex.
10. Poor sensation or leaking during sex.
11. A prolapse.
Where are Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles are between your pubic bone at the front and your tailbone at the back. They support the bladder, bowl and uterus.
The openings from your bladder, your bowels and your womb all pass through your pelvic floor.
They also maintain bladder and bowel control.
What Do Pelvic Floor Muscles Do?
Pelvic floor muscles provide support to the organs that lie on it. The sphincters give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel.
This allows us to control the release of urine, faeces and flatus and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient.
When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra.
Relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage of urine and faeces.
Pelvic Floor Exercises are for Men and Women
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. In men, it is important for erectile function and ejaculation.
In women, voluntary contractions (squeezing) of the pelvic floor contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
The pelvic floor muscles in women also provide support for the baby during pregnancy and assist in the birthing process.
The muscles of the pelvic floor work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilise and support the spine.
When Can I start to see a difference?
After 6 to 8 weeks, you should feel better and have fewer symptoms. For some women, it could take longer.
If you feel that these exercises are not helping you, keep doing them. Results are not always immediate.
The Mayo Clinic states that Kegel exercises may take several months to have an effect on urinary incontinence.
Signs of pelvic floor strength improvement
Signs your pelvic floor muscle exercises are working:
1. Less leakage and fewer ‘accidents.’
2. Longer time between bathroom visits.
3. Being able to hold the contractions longer.
4. Drier underwear, without the feeling of always being wet.
Should I Do more Kegels with each trimester?
As you notice a difference, you must avoid doing more. As doing more (over-training) can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
Note of Caution
Avoid doing Kegel exercises at the same time you are urinating. Doing the exercises while you are urinating can weaken your pelvic floor muscles over time.
Or cause damage to bladder and kidneys.
Doing Kegel exercises incorrectly or with too much force may cause vaginal muscles to tighten too much. This can cause pain during sexual intercourse.
What if I experience pain?
You are likely not performing your Kegels correctly if you feel pain in your abdomen (or back).
As you contract your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles in your abdomen, back, buttocks, and sides should remain loose. Please seek professional help when needed.
What if I stop doing pelvic floor exercises?
Like any muscle, if you do not continually strengthen it, it will weaken. Incontinence will return if you stop doing these exercises.
When do I need to seek professional help?
You should visit your doctor or physio anytime you need help or have concerns. If you’re having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
Your health care provider can help you to learn how to isolate and exercise the correct muscles.
If you are not sure you are doing Kegel exercises the right way, book in an appointment with your physio. They will work closely with you to ensure you are doing them correctly.
There are some physios or physical therapists who specialise in pelvic floor exercises.
Why Kegel exercises matter.
Pregnancy is just one factor that can weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:
1. Stress incontinence – Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing
2. Urinary urge incontinence – a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine.
3. Faecal incontinence – leak stool.
When are Kegels less effective?
Kegel exercises are less helpful if you have severe urine leakage when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
Kegel exercises aren’t helpful if you unexpectedly leak small amounts of urine due to a full bladder (overflow incontinence).
Why are Pelvic Floor Exercises Important for Later on in Life?
A prolapse is where the pelvic organs move down and push against the walls of the vagina.
Performing exercises now to protect your pelvic floor you can reduce the possibility of this occurring.
While you may not directly see the benefits of doing your Kegels, you will later on. Your body changes greatly after childbirth. A strong pelvic floor will help minimise many of these unwanted changes.
Learning to do them correctly can be difficult at first. But once you know, then you can do them anywhere, without anyone knowing!